Statistical Process Control Is Improving Patient Outcomes In Surgery

Published on March 9, 2015

Medical advances have had a positive affect on life expectancy and quality of life but the operating room has grown increasingly complex. The use of statistical process control techniques is improving patient outcomes and reducing errors in surgery.

Brockton, MA – Along with the technical and medical advances over the past several decades that have made positive contributions to life expectancy and quality of life, equipment and procedures in hospitals have grown increasing complex, particularly in surgery. About half of all adverse events, or errors, in hospitals are involved with surgery according to a study published by the online journal, Patient Safety in Surgery.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that hospitals are concerned about increasing patient safety and that many hospitals are now participants in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Project (NSQIP). NSQIP is sponsored by the America College of Surgeons and the objective is to measure and improve the quality of surgical care. In the article, Dr. Clifford Ko, a surgeon at UCLA and director of NSQIP, was quoted as saying, “All too often, patients are being harmed by preventable complications.” Ko continued, “You can’t improve a hospital’s surgical quality if you can’t measure it.”

Dr. David Kashmer, MD, MBA, is a surgeon and health care quality strategist in Brockton, MA. He has been an innovator in the use of statistical process control methods in surgical procedures. Kashmer stated, “Benchmarking with tools like NSQIP is an important part of quality improvement, and tools like statistical process control can provide the infrastructure required to make meaningful improvement. Benchmarks can highlight issues, and statistical process control helps the organization correct them.”

Kashmer also explained that statistical process control methods, such as Lean and Six Sigma, have been more accepted in health care organizations over the past five years. They provide a valuable perspective that helps teams reduce errors and achieve improved results for patients. These methods are very useful and work well in the surgical environment when they are properly applied. Education in use of these tools and proper application is essential for proper interpretation of data and guidance on making appropriate procedure changes to improve quality.

Dr. Kashmer is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and he holds a Master Black Belt Certification in Lean/Six Sigma. In addition to his medical training he also has an MBA from George Washington University. Kashmer is editor of and contributes to the “Surgical Business Model Innovation” blog where the focus is on quality improvement and innovation in surgery and health care.

To learn more about Dr. David Kashmer and the use of statistical process control in health care visit

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